Meath East: Hannigan pins his hopes on Breakfast Roll Man's support
LABOUR Party Senator Dominic Hannigan is hoping to win back the vote of Breakfast Roll man this time around.
He had been tipped to make a breakthrough for Labour in the 2007 General Election, but the unexpected late surge of support for Fianna Fail in this commuter constituency got Thomas Byrne elected.
But Mr Hannigan said things had changed since then and many Fianna Fail voters were now looking for a new party to support.
"A lot of those 'Breakfast Roll Men' are now sitting at home because they are on part-time work or they are not working," he said.
The population of Meath as a whole has increased by around 60,000 in the last two decades to an estimated 180,000 now -- and there is enormous pressure on school places.
According to Mr Hannigan, the number of Meath homeowners getting state payments to help them with their mortgages increased by almost 130pc last year. There are also elderly parents worried about how the recession is affecting their children's mental health.
"On a daily basis, people are crying at the door when we visit them -- grown men as well as women. We need to start offering hope because the doom and gloom is impacting on people's well-being," he said.
Fianna Fail won two out of three seats last time out, but will be happy to hold on to one this time. Former junior minister Mary Wallace has bowed out of politics, leaving solicitor Thomas Byrne TD and Nick Killian to compete for the party's two seats instead.
Mr Byrne is seen as one of Fianna Fail's rising talents but he will be under pressure from Fine Gael and Labour. Fianna Fail will also have to contend with a former national executive member, Sharon Keogan, who is running as an Independent after she failed to get on to the party ticket.
She hit the headlines when she refused to let Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny canvass in her restaurant in Duleek during the local elections in 2009. Although there are many urban centres in Meath East, there is also a significant farming vote.
Fine Gael's sitting TD Shane McEntee has worked hard to highlight the cause of homeowners in Ashbourne and Dunboyne whose walls and floors are cracking due to the presence of pyrite. He is considered a safe bet for re-election but the challenge is to see if Fine Gael can win a second seat through Regina Doherty. If Mr Byrne can hold on, it looks like a battle between her and Mr Hannigan for the last seat.
Thomas Byrne TD
Cllr Nick Killian
Shane McEntee TD
Cllr Regina Doherty
Senator Dominic Hannigan
Last time out
? FF’s Mary Wallace topped the poll with around 10,900 votes
? Her party colleague Thomas Byrne was the big winner when he took a second seat for Fianna Fail ahead of Labour’s Dominic Hannigan and Fine Gael Cllr Regina Doherty
? Fine Gael TD Shane McEntee held the seat he won in the by-election two years earlier
? SEATS 3
? ELECTORATE 63,978
? VOTERS PER TD 21,326